VMware Looks to GitOps to Drive Edge Computing

At its VMware Explore 2023 event, VMware today unveiled an orchestration tool, dubbed VMware Edge, that promises to simplify the management of edge computing services at scale.

At the same time, VMware has launched a Project Keswick initiative through which it will work with customers to define additional use cases for VMware Edge based on zero-trust principles and GitOps workflows for deploying applications. The company also unveiled a VMware Retail Edge platform based on VMware Edge and is planning to add additional offerings aimed at specific vertical industry segments.

Finally, VMware is making available a managed connectivity service through which it will provide private 4G/5G wireless services.

VMware Edge Cloud Orchestrator is based on a tool that VMware created to orchestrate the management of its secure access service edge (SASE) platform. That has now been extended to support a wider range of software running on edge computing platforms.

Sanjay Uppal, senior vice president and general manager of service provider and edge for VMware, said the goal is to streamline the management of software-defined edge computing platforms via a single console. Achieving that goal requires the ability to identify and programmatically manage workloads distributed across a mix of networks, he added.

VMware is betting that as more workloads are distributed to edge computing platforms, there will be a greater need to centralize the management of workloads running on platforms that are not always easy to physically access. Less clear, however, is to what degree those edge computing platforms will be managed by IT teams versus operational technology (OT) teams that are usually embedded within a department that manages a specific business process.

However, regardless of who manages those platforms, they will be relying more on GitOps workflows to programmatically provision infrastructure and deploy applications that will need to be regularly updated. In fact, because these platforms are often dispersed across hundreds of physical locations, the need for a pull-based orchestration tool that works asynchronously is critical, said Uppal.

In the longer term, IT teams should also expect artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to be applied in a way that makes edge computing self-healing, he added.

No one can say exactly how many organizations have adopted GitOps to manage the provisioning of both infrastructure and the delivery of applications, but it’s conceivable that edge computing will force the issue. The tricky part will be finding a way to manage those GitOps workflows at the necessary level of scale. Most DevOps teams already struggle with implementing DevOps workflows at scale, so if more workloads are to be distributed across hundreds of edge computing platforms, there will be a much more acute need for automation to consistently deploy, secure and update applications.

Regardless of approach, however, there may come a day when the number of workloads deployed at the edge far outnumbers the number of workloads deployed in the cloud or in a data center. The challenge and the opportunity now is to get ahead of edge computing issues before they inevitably create a set of management issues that will be more difficult to address after applications have already been deployed.